50-year-old Steve Stricker extends major-cut streak, enjoys busy year

Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

50-year-old Steve Stricker extends major-cut streak, enjoys busy year

Professional

50-year-old Steve Stricker extends major-cut streak, enjoys busy year

SOUTHPORT, England – Brilliant beams lit up northwest England Sunday morning, the perfect setting for one more round in the sunshine for Steve Stricker.

The 50-year-old sage was heartened if not made happy by his latest trip to the British Open, one in which he extended his streak of cuts made at major championships to 25, best in the game.

Stricker’s steady play in the 146th edition at Royal Birkdale included rounds of 70, 72 and 69 before closing with a 71, a 2-over 282 total and a T-37 finish. It was his 15th career British start.

Stricker reflected on the just-completed journey fondly, wishing for a bit more.

“It was good to come over,” Stricker said. “It’s always a treat to play in an Open. The weather was great on the weekend, which made it pretty enjoyable and a lot of fun to play.

“I didn’t make a putt in four days. It’s hard to compete and shoot good scores when you’re not holing putts.”

Maintaining the cut streak serves as no consolation prize for a Claret Jug. Stricker has never won a major. But it did show that the PGA Tour veteran has plenty left – both in his bag and in his belly.

“It’s something I’m proud of, making that many in a row,” Stricker said. “It’s something that I look fondly upon. I wish I would have won one in there somewhere. I would have traded a missed a cut for winning one of those.

“It’s a neat accomplishment. It shows my longevity and that I’m continuing to make cuts at 50. That’s the good part, I guess.”

The calendar flip to 2017 has brought change for Stricker, but also consistency. He joined the PGA Tour Champions to start the season. Stricker tied for third as host of the American Family Insurance Championship senior event in his hometown of Madison in late June.

On his way out to pasture? Hardly, for a man who began on the Tour in 1994 and has collected 12 victories, ranking as high as second in the world in 2009.

This year began, majorly, in April, with a T-16 at the Masters, shooting level par at Augusta. It continued with him returning to Wisconsin two months later for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Stricker asked for but was denied an exemption to the tournament, then battled through a qualifier in Memphis to join the field. He got through that gauntlet and fired back-to-back 69s over the U.S. Open weekend, receiving a rousing ovation from the gallery as he walked up the 18th fairway in the final round. Another T-16 in a major.

Just a week before the British, Stricker contended at the Tour’s John Deere Classic, finishing T-5 with a 15-under 269 total. Then he hopped a plane and got to Birkdale bleary-eyed Monday.

Stricker’s eventful summer is far from done. He will play in the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, at Quail Hollow on Aug. 10-13 in Charlotte, N.C. He said he may play a Champions event in advance.

“It’s been busy, but a good busy,” he said. “I’m excited to play and my game’s in good shape. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. I’d rather have it that way, though, than doing nothing.”

Stricker also expects to participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Then he’ll start drilling down on plans as captain for the U.S. Presidents Cup team. He could have a bevy of young talent playing for him at Liberty National Golf Club in September, including Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. All have Presidents Cup experience. Then there’s Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka, Kevin Chappell and Brian Harman who, if they stay in the top 10, will be rookies in the competition.

Rookies with no history of bonding as a unit. Take Berger, who said after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic: “We hear a lot about the young guns and about the Justin Thomases and the Jordan Spieths. But I feel like I kind of get forgotten a little bit. I’m pretty good.”

An “I” on his team? Who better to lead such a green Red, White and Blue squad than a graybeard?

“I just need to make sure the guys are all on the same page,” Stricker said. “We have a get together coming up soon. We’ll probably have a practice round at Liberty National before the playoffs start.

“It’s just making sure the guys are comfortable with me, with the rest of the guys on the team and that they know the game plan moving forward. Some guys could be on this team that have never played on a team. So that will be a new experience. You may have to hold their hand a little bit more. These young guys, they could be around for a long time. That’s exciting. They have a little edge to them.”

Age aside, so does Stricker, who shows no signs of slowing down.

 

Latest

More Golfweek
Home